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Protocols in place when grocery store employee tests positive for COVID-19

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The El Paso County Health Department is now laying out what it's doing to protect shoppers at grocery stores when an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

The response comes after KRDO pushed for answers upon learning an employee at the King Soopers near Woodmen Road and Academy Boulevard tested positive for coronavirus this weekend.

The county health department says there's always a risk when venturing out to get necessities like food. However, officials stress there are protocols in place.

"The first thing that's going to happen is that the positive individual is going to be reported to public health and we will start that investigation," said acting medical director Dr. Leon Kelly.

Kelly says their next step to reach out to the business where the positive patient works.

"We work hand in hand with them and explain what's going on," said Kelly. "[We] work with them to protect their employees and the public."

According to state cleaning and disinfection guidance, after a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 was at a facility, it's recommended to close those areas used by the ill person.

The state also encourages businesses to wait as long as practical before beginning disinfection to minimize the potential for exposure. State guidelines indicate that if possible, companies should wait up to 24 hours to clean.

"We have pretty clear recommendations from the CDC and state public health department on cleaning protocols," Kelly said. "Typically, those are done overnight or in between shifts to scrub those surfaces and disinfect everything."

Kelly tells KRDO almost all essential businesses are already implementing cleaning requirements without a positive case among their workforce.

"Many of our local businesses have to stay open. People need food and other services," Kelly said. "[The businesses] can not only do a lot to monitor the safety of their own employees but also the greater public."

King Soopers on North Academy in Colorado Springs remained open on Monday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

A Trader Joe's in Denver shutdown to clean on Sunday after one of its employees had a confirmed case of coronavirus.

KRDO specifically asked the state health department if it's at the discretion of the company to decide whether or not to shut down. We are still waiting for an official answer.

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.

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